No rent debt but remission: Amsterdam tenants demand social security

During the corona crisis, many people are in need, including many artists and creative freelancers in Amsterdam. They were already paying high rents before the crisis and many were just able to keep their heads above water before the corona crisis, but now many are really getting into trouble.
Interview with Anthony Nestel, artist and tenant at Lely incubator (Urban Resort)

During the corona crisis, many people are in need, including many artists and creative freelancers. They were already paying high rents before the crisis and many were just able to keep their heads above water before the corona crisis, but now many are really getting into trouble. Although Nibud advises that maximum 33% in housing costs acceptable many tenants in Amsterdam have already exceeded this and this percentage will be exceeded even further with the crisis.

Artists often find themselves in a complicated position; many know that, often unintentionally, they contribute to gentrification and are critical of the way they are used as tools for urban renewal. But to be able to live and work in the city, you have to adapt to the possibilities that you have.

Making art has meanwhile been put on the back burner, for some like Anthony Nestel the big question is how they can provide for their livelihood. Anthony lives and works in a space of Broedplaats Lely in Amsterdam Nieuw West and is a student and artist.

“All my assignments have been cancelled. I now earn 300 euros per month with my part-time job on the market. My rent at the Lely incubator is 625 euros. I can't afford that now. I signed up for the TOZObut haven't received anything yet. Urban Resort has offered us a payment plan for three months. But the bottom line is that you have to get yourself into debt.”

The chance that Anthony and others will be able to pay for this in the future is also small, because of this he threatens to end up at or below the poverty line, just like more and more people. Even before the corona crisis more than 25% of the tenants clamped. More than 800,000 households have such high rents that they have too little left to pay all other necessary living costs.

Urban Resort breeding grounds empire in Amsterdam

look at it full interview with Anthony on Youtube.

Urban Resort is an important incubator manager in Amsterdam; Over the past twelve years, Urban Resort has opened several incubators, currently the counter is at 19. A large part of these properties are rented from municipal Real Estate Amsterdam. Urban Resort is in direct contact with municipal Real Estate Amsterdam and says it has argued for remission, but has not yet received a positive response.

Urban Resort says it is committed to the interests of its tenants. Several tenants have asked to be involved in the negotiations with Vastgoed, or at least to make these negotiations public, but so far no response has been received. How are the negotiations between Urban Resort and Vastgoed going? Does Urban Resort have reservations? What are the rents they have to pay themselves? For example, annual reports show that the building in which Anthony lives delivered an operating result of EUR 63,093 in 2017. Viewed more broadly, the Urban Resort Foundation seems to have one million between the price they pay to their landlord (mainly municipal real estate in Amsterdam) and what they pass on to users.

These numbers are difficult to understand because little context is provided; it's quite opaque. But it raises many questions. Why should the burden of the crisis be borne by the weakest shoulders? Especially if there appear to be reserves? And why shouldn't a decent foundation be more transparent about its finances?

The situation is also dire in other breeding grounds. Tenants at WOW estimate that 50% of the co-tenants were unable to pay their rent in April and May. A higher percentage indicates that they experience problems with payment. Tenants have united there in a collective in the hope of finding a joint solution. Still, WOW refuses to talk and tenants receive aggressive calls individually.

Meanwhile, Urban Resort continues to call on its tenants to share initiatives and “positive sounds” during the corona crisis. Sometimes an artist's project is done without permission published. Can you perhaps pay the rent with your cultural capital?!

It is now known that a support package for the Incubators is imminent, but will this emergency aid reach the individual tenants themselves?

In order to support tenants, but also to claim the voice of the tenant/artist within the incubator policy, 'Incubator United Tenants' has meanwhile been established. The current crisis is only the reason for tenants to unite and work towards a more sustainable future so that workplaces and living spaces remain accessible to creatives. Bond Precaire Woonvormen (BPW) supports this group and believes it is important that incubators also take the situation of their tenants seriously and look for sustainable solutions together with tenants. BPW wonders why incubators and the municipality exceed the Nibud guideline of a maximum of 33% in housing costs. Rents should be reduced and waived. Or are people not aware of the rates that are paid in the cultural sector where precarious labor is the norm?

Because how many artists will have to leave Amsterdam? Can the rent for artists who rent a building from the municipality be (partially) waived for the period March to October 2020? This is the urgent message of a motion which will be submitted on Tuesday 19 or Wednesday 20 May in the Amsterdam City Council by BIJ1.

Are you a tenant at an incubator? follow BUT! on Facebook or send an email to incubator unitedtenants [@]

Facebook page BUT! (Incubator United Tenants)

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